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The importance of improved leadership communication in repairing the trust of UK employees is highlighted in a major new report released today by Westminster Business School, University of Westminster, in collaboration with Top Banana and the Institute of Internal Communication.

Trust in UK business has suffered a serious decline since the 2008 global financial crisis, reaching its lowest recorded levels last year (Edelman Barometer Survey, 2014).

Katalin Illes, principal lecturer in leadership and development at Westminster Business School and co-author of the report said: “Continuously declining levels of trust in society indicate that we are not relating to each other in the right way. Humans are social creatures and past and present findings confirm that strong, supportive communities have higher survival rates and prosper more. This is also true of business communities. Leaders have a key role to play in changing their own perceptions and helping the change process of others. The trouble is that most leaders are unable to recognise, let alone change, the structural habits of attention they and their organisations use to drive key factors such as trust.”

This report, which draws on recent academic and mainstream research in leadership, trust and communication, describes the radically evolved role of leadership in the 21st century, the fact that many leadership communication approaches are completely unfit for purpose and the integral role for communication practitioners in creating a trusting company.

Subjects covered by the report include:

  • Common causes of trust destruction in organisations, how employees evaluate trustworthiness and how leaders can communicate to rebuild trust
  • Achieving deeper organisational ‘listening’ through communicative and relational leadership styles
  • Ceasing to think of leadership as a position and starting to think of it as a collective process to create transparent work environments based on trust and shared purpose
  • The importance of face-to-face communication in a digital landscape
  • Effective leadership communication based on emotional intelligence
  • Development of leadership capabilities in order to be aware of, anticipate and be ready to adapt for change
  • The critical role of line managers in building trusting organisations
  • The importance of value congruence in creating a trusting organisation and how employees trust their company based on its perceived distributive, procedural and interactional fairness

Nick Terry, managing director at leadership events and communication specialists Top Banana, said: “The presence of trust in an organisation has a considerable impact on the performance of that organisation. From better cooperation and more effective problem solving, to a positive work climate and employee engagement, the benefits of a trusting workplace are both well researched and understood by communication professionals. What continues to evolve is the environment within which business leaders need to operate and the suite of communication concepts and approaches appropriate for the ‘new world’. This is where communication practitioners have a key role to play as a trusted adviser for the organisational leaders they coach, guide, support and advise.”

Steve Doswell, chief executive of the Institute of Internal Communication, said: “Trust is essential. Without it social groups cannot function properly. It’s true on any scale, from individual families to the international community and it’s certainly true of businesses and all employer organisations. The value of this report for communication practitioners is that it explains with academic rigour the unbreakable connection between leadership, communication and trust, it provides powerful arguments to make the case for trust-building communication styles, methods and behaviours and it provides a suite of practical insights to start supporting your company’s leadership on building trust in your organisation today.”

The executive summary, e-book with key findings and recommendations and the full report are available for download from www.top-b.com/trustinleadership. IoIC members can download the report via the Research page of this website or by clicking here.
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